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May 18, 2024 9 mins
AN AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST & INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AT “NEWSWEEK” KNOWS ALL TOO WELL ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES OF HAVING A CHILD AND TAKES A DEEP DIVE INTO FERTILITY AND THE QUEST TO BECOME A SINGLE MOTHER BY CHOICE IN HER NEW BOOK. WE SPEAK WITH VALERIE BAUMAN, AUTHOR OF: “INCONCEIVABLE.”
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(00:00):
You're listening to American Medicine Today,presented by the Benati Spine Institute, featuring
internationally acclaimed inventor of the Benati spineprocedures, Alfred Benatti, m D.
Once again, your host Kimberly BurmelBenati and co host Ethan Yuger. Welcome
to American Medicine Today. I'm KimberlyBenati alongside Ethan Yucker and world renowned orthopedic

(00:21):
surgeon. Doctor Alfred Benatti, anaward winning journalist and investigative reporter at Newsweek,
knows all too well about the difficultiesof having a child and takes a
deep dive into fertility and the questto become a single mother by choice and
her new book. Please welcome ValerieBauman to the show, author of Inconceivable.

(00:42):
Hi, thank you so much forhaving me certainly so, what made
you interested in exploring this particular topic. Well, I was thirty eight in
the middle of a pandemic. You'rethinking about your morutality, your legacy,
and I realized I wanted to becomea mom. I didn't have a partner,
and I very quickly grew disenchanted withsperm bank websites I wanted to give

(01:06):
my kid more answers than they couldfind just on these websites, and I
stumbled across a world I call theworld of freelance sperm donation. It is
a bizarre wild West where men helpwomen and LGBTQ couples and some heterosexual couples
reproduced by providing their sperm. It'svery bizarre scenario, but for me it

(01:29):
ended up working out really beautifully.I'm currently almost nine months pregnant, and
I just knew it was a storyI had to tell. I had never
heard of anything like this in mylife, and I've been a journalist for
twenty years, and my storyteller instinctswere just set aflame, I can imagine.
I mean, I had never heardof anything like this myself. It

(01:52):
almost sounded like the want ads arethe classifieds, but for sperm donors.
I don't know. It's just veryinteresting. So I mean, how did
you discover it and what was thatjourney like in finding the eventual donor of
yours? Well, I basically startedout with the sperm bank websites, and
I was making spreadsheets and trying toprioritize, but everything just seems so shallow.

(02:15):
I mean, you know, atthe end of the day, do
I care about my kid's eye color, or do I care that someday when
they meet the donor who helped mecreate them, that it will be a
kind and good person that you know, has a has a patient and genuine
temperament. I wanted to really beable to get at who these men really

(02:35):
were when I made my decisions,So I literally just googled sperm donor that
you know, and all of thesethings started popping up, and I started
exploring. There's websites. There's anapp called Just a Baby. It's like
Tinder for getting knocked up. Youjust swipe until you find somebody that you
match with. I had my successusing the Facebook groups, of which there

(02:55):
are many. The journey was tough. There's a lot of creeps out there.
It's true. There's a lot ofmen with breeding fetishes, a lot
of men who are producing dozens anddozens of children, which would leave my
child with countless half siblings. AndI think that donor conceive people deserve to
know both where they came from,the donor that helped their parents reproduce,

(03:20):
but also their biological family, theirhalf siblings. So I got lucky finding
a donor who stopped donating after tenfamilies, which seems like a lot,
but compared to the sperm banks,you can get, you know, hundreds
of kids, and you know,there's a Facebook group that he has for
his recipients so that the kids canget to know each other, that parents
can get to know each other.And it just seemed a little more I

(03:44):
don't know, or organic for lackof a better word. And you know,
I really was able to vet him, get to know who he was
as a human being, and feellike I was really making a good choice
that my son will hopefully understand thatI've tried to put his best interest first.
You know, I wanted to beas unselfish as possible. Yeah,
I wanted to ask because I rememberreading a while ago about certain donors that

(04:09):
had you know, three four hundred, five hundred, you know children out
there somewhere. Aren't there parameters puton how often how many times a male
can can donate? And then alsothere's the whole paternity of it all.
What do you know about all ofthat stuff? Well, that's a great
question. Sperm banks and the fertilityindustry have actively lobbied against any laws that

(04:33):
would place formal limits on donations throughsperm banks. Instead, sperm banks say
they have these self imposed limits,which I believe is it's roughly twenty five
children produced per donor per eight hundredthousand, you know, population of eight
hundred thousand, So that could easilyin the United States result in you know,

(04:56):
hundreds of children, and then youthen the sperm banks start trading their
biles internationally and the number of childrengrows exponentially. The United States legal system
is loath, for understandable reasons,to place any limit on how many children
any person can produce. It getsinto a really tricky area of bioethics.

(05:17):
But because how do you draw thatline to say, no, you're not
allowed to create any more children,or you can only create children with this
many people, Well, it's madelogically, kind of instinctively makes sense.
It gets into kind of an ickyterritory for you know, it's a weird
way to put it, but yeah, it's a little ikey to try and
tell somebody you're not allowed to haveany more kids. As a female who

(05:40):
knew at some point they wanted achild, it's amazing that you can go
through these routes as opposed to typicalsperm banks. But again, how do
you keep the creeps away that arekind of trying to like prey on individuals

(06:00):
wanting a child, because I'm surethere's got to be more than one or
two out there, There are alot. It takes time, patients and
vetting. You know, I hada list of you know, roughly twenty
five plus, you know, twentyfive just initial questions. You need to
you need to definitely video chat withany donor you're willing, you're willing to
work with. Obviously insist on STItesting. I am a genetic carrier for

(06:27):
UH, spinal muscular atrophy, SoI insisted on having genetic testing done,
genetic carrier screening done on my donors. And then uh, my donor actually
you know, had a sperm analysisdone at a clinic. And not a
lot of donors are willing to jumpthrough those hoops, and so it does
narrow the field. So you dohave to wade through the creeps and the

(06:49):
perverse. You know, I hadone sperm donor who's a moderator for you
know, at least six or sevendifferent groups estimate that eighty percent of the
men who are in their sperm donorgroups are only willing to donate via sex.
A lot of these men coerce andpressure women into sex, and even
when they aren't, some of themdo get an eurotic thrill out of knowing

(07:12):
they're getting somebody pregnant. And soit's a matter of taking your time getting
to know somebody, not rushing intothe process, and understanding the motivation.
These are all things that are somuch more important than you know. I
want somebody who has blue eyes,which unfortunately is a starting point for too
many women. Because sperm is notsperm is not sperm. It is not

(07:33):
all created equal. These these donorsare not interchangeable. This is going to
define who the person is that yougive birth to. So a lot of
thought needs to go into it.And speaking you mentioned motivation of the donor
that itself, I was thinking thisentire time because it sounds like your donor
has been amazing and has worked withyou throughout the entire process. But I

(07:55):
got to say, like what isin it for the donor? Like what
are they getting out of it?Because I'm sure most when I think of
a sperm donor, I think ofsomebody who probably needs a few books and
is, you know, selling itoff to the bank and just wants to
remain anonymous. So what's their motivation? That's a great question, I think

(08:16):
some I think the answer that makesthe most sense to me that I can
get comfortable with is there are menout there who have a biological imperative to
procreate beyond what is reasonable for theirimmediate family and financial situation. They maybe
have had one or two kids,they want more, but you know their
wife isn't on board, and theywant to through this inexplainable urge, continue

(08:41):
reproducing. And they also a lotof these men have met lesbian women who
become friends who want to be ableto have a baby, and they had
to kind of come to Jesus momentwhere they thought, I can help this
person. Sperm banks charge so muchmoney, and what people don't realize is
when you get sperm from a spermbank, not only is it frozen,

(09:03):
which means it only lasts in yourbody up to twenty four hours versus up
to five days with fresh sperm,but you're also only getting a fraction of
the actual deposit made by the donor. Sometimes they chop it up into eight
ten different separate vials, so you'repaying, you know, one fifteen hundred
dollars plus shipping for a vial ofsperm that is a fraction of the actual

(09:26):
emission. Well, thank you somuch for being on the program, Valerie
Bauman to the show, author ofInconceivable, and again, congratulations on your
journey and your upcoming baby. Thankyou so much for having me. Take
great care. Coming up after thebreak, we'll have more. You're listening

(09:48):
to American Medicine Today.
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